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C & C Debate Factory: What should the Arizona Coyotes do if the third pick is theirs?

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Noah Hanifin? Dylan Strome? Mitch Marner? Something else? The FFH staff debates.

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Internal email threads at Five For Howling often turn into debates over the present and future of the Arizona Coyotes and the NHL. This time, we decided to let our readers weigh in too. FFH Associate Editor Christopher Hair and FFH Editor Emeritus Carl Putnam tackle the Coyotes' 2015 Draft Strategy in this edition of the C&C Debate Factory.

What should Arizona do if they end up with the 3rd overall pick: Draft Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, Mitchell Marner or trade it?

Christopher Hair: In a normal draft, I agree that Arizona should draft Hanifin. But given the depth of the front end of this draft class, I think Arizona should think long and hard about drafting the third forward on their draft board.

For me, that is Mitch Marner. The Coyotes offensive woes have been documented for years and they haven't developed home grown high end talent since coming to the desert (Boedker's injury not withstanding). Hanifin is probably clearly the draft's top blueliner, but in Arizona what is his ceiling besides 2nd pair LD?

Carl Putnam: You make a number of interesting points, especially about the handed situation on the blueline. Currently, Michael Stone & Connor Murphy are the only right handed shooting defensemen on the roster. In a perfect world every pairing would be a L-R pairing. However, nothing is ever perfect and I'd rather have two true 1st pairing D guys than a 2nd pairing or 3rd pairing guy in the 1st pairing just because he's a righty.

While the Coyotes already have a roster full of young blueliners, they only have one elite one. Most of their blueline is still in training wheels, so adding another guy - who is also green - could be an issue in the short term, but it could also be a plus. Coach Dave Tippett would have more pieces to try and move around to find a cohesive unit going into the '16-17 season.

My drafting philosophy in almost every sport is you draft the best player available. However, normally I'm a bit hesitant on taking a defenseman high in the NHL draft due to the usual extended learning curve for the position. But, in Hanifin's case I'm not at all hesitant. The couple of times I've seen him play I've been extremely impressed with him on both ends of the ice. He skated well and never seemed to be out of position. He is the rare blueliner, who to me, and apparently most of the scouts, looks like he could be ready to play in the NHL right away. I actually think he's more NHL ready than Seth Jones was when he was drafted by the Predators. I would take him at #3.

I realize people want the Coyotes to turn things around immediately, but I'd rather load up on talent than make picks based on filling holes immediately on a team with a prodigious amount of them.

Christopher: Completely agree on Noah Hanifin being NHL ready. I just believe that a top six forward is more valuable than a top pair defenseman. Especially on a team that already has a true top flight blueliner. OEL is such a dominant force right now with little to no forward help in front of him.

Imagine what OEL would do behind a top 6 consisting of Domi, Perlini, Duclair, Rieder, Boedker and Marner/Strome. That is scary and doesn't even include Dvorak, Lessio, Hanzal, and Samuelsson.

The Coyotes have never had that kind of forward depth. I think adding to it is very wise. They can find defensemen to add to the group, maybe even by trading some of that extra depth.

I am just not sure that Hanifin is clearly better than Strome or Marner and to me, I don't feel he is the BPA. If you aren't sure, they should take the forward.

Carl: Am I correct in assuming you would take Strome over Hanifin as well?

Christopher: Probably. I like Hanifin, a lot. I just wish the Coyotes had the fourth or fifth pick if they took him. At three, I don't think Hanifin is a better choice than Marner or Strome. If the Coyotes had a top flight forward already, I think it's easier for them to take Hanifin.

As much as we are all salivating over the potential of Domi, Duclair, Perlini, etc., there is no guarantee any of them truly make it. That is why Arizona needs to keep adding to their stash of talent, because they have no assurances.

Take Edmonton, for example. Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Yakupov have all already made and succeeded in the NHL. If they end up with the third pick, they HAVE to take Hanifin. But for the Coyotes, I would advocate another forward.

Simple math, you need to dress 12 forwards against 6 dmen. The better your forwards, the less asked of your blue line. Given the expected development of blueliners, the Coyotes are better off using their late 1st and maybe even their 2nd on defenders.

Carl: I don't agree about the value of a top pair defensemen vs. a top six forward. Top pairing defensemen are extremly hard to trade for, especially for guys in their prime. However, top six forwards such as Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Carter, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Kesler, and Evander Kane have all been traded in recent years.

However, I certainly understand your concerns about the Coyotes' forward corps. They haven't had true top line players in almost 15 years. I'm just willing to be patient for guys they already have in the system to develop combined with possible future trades.

I actually like your Edmonton example, but for a different reason. They've had guys like Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle pan out. The problem is, save for Jeff Petry, their blueline has been a disaster area and so has their record for almost a decade now. You can't focus on just one aspect of the game and ignore others and expect to win. OEL can't play both sides of the ice and 45 minutes a night.

As for who'd I'd take if I didn't take Hanifin, it would be Strome. He's bigger and is likely to be a player who can play a two-way game in the NHL better than Marner can. However, I'm readily willing to admit it's a close contest and Marner is clearly a better skater at this point. I just worry about Marner's ability to play the full 200 feet. To me, the Marner vs. Strome argument is one where you could logically take either side.

It looks like based on our answers the one thing we do agree on is GM Don Maloney shouldn't trade the pick.

Christopher: I agree on Strome probably being a better two way player. He is bigger and his floor is certainly higher than Marner's. But Marner's ceiling is higher to me.

I just don't think Maloney will be able to get real value for the third pick unless somehow, someone doesn't take Eichel. Which would be ridiculous. I just don't imagine the need to take Hanifin motivating a team enough to give up what would be the right value.

I like his game, but I don't know if he becomes a top pair guy. I think he ends up a solid NHL player for years, but the Coyotes need a star at 3. I don't see that in Hanifin.

Carl: I don't see a scenario where the team would get commensurate value for the pick either.

What do you think?